The casual use of the word “acid” usually comes with a rather negative connotation. For example, 80’s Alien movies taught us to stay away from any simmering green liquids. But did you know there are some acids that are absolutely vital and healthy to our bodies?
Of course there is our stomach acid. Without it we could never digest and process food, but today we’re going to focus on a different kind of acid: fatty acids, and how a surplus of them can enhance our bodies in far more ways than one. There are many different types of fatty acids that are worth mentioning, but the best of the best is the Omega 3 fatty acid.
What Are the Four Fats?
Before digging into the benefits of omega fatty acids, let’s establish the four types of fatty acids. This is important to do quickly since there are four types of fatty acids, but the healthiest fats known as omegas are found in only one of the categories. In fact, one of the healthiest things you can do is to avoid two of the other categories.
The four categories are as follows: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans. Think of them as the good, the good, the bad, and the ugly. While monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are very healthy, saturated fats are not necessarily good for you unless you’re trying to put on weight.
Similarly, it is best to avoid trans fats. Foods that are high in trans fats have been banned in certain countries. There may still be remnants of trans fats in various ingredients or due to a cooking process, but they are in no way healthy.
On the other hand, monounsaturated fats are worth noting since they contain healthy sources of fats that keep our bodies in check without putting us at risk. We’ll include a list of foods high in monounsaturated fats later if you’re looking for a simple way to affect your diet. But for now, let’s get into the details we’ve been waiting for: omega fatty acids.
Polyunsaturated fats are the only fat you can go to in order to find omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids--although omega 9s can be found in monounsaturated fats as well. All of these acids can enhance our bodies with a wide range of possible benefits. On top of this, polyunsaturated fats are essential fats, meaning we literally can’t live without them. But the only way to get them is through food.
There are several different types of omega fatty acids, each with its slew of health benefits. Learning more can help you hone in on the omegas you may want to start eating more of.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods like salmon, tuna, nut butter, nuts, and seeds, and they can provide a wide variety of potential health benefits, including:
- Preventing blood clots, certain heart issues, and heart rhythm disorders
- Supporting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol
- Supporting immune system health and functioning
- Supporting cognitive function, eyesight, and memory
- Soothing symptoms of skeletal damage and discomfort
- Soothing irritation in the body
Omega-6 fatty acids may provide benefits like:
- Working to protect the heart from various diseases.
- Maintaining healthy cholesterol
- Supporting immune function
Omega-9s may boost your health by:
- Promoting healthy cholesterol
- Supporting immune health
- Supporting cognitive function and brain health
- Improving insulin sensitivity
As you can see, each omega acid has the potential to increase the well-being of the recipient drastically. Sometimes they play a preventative role, and sometimes they are capable of helping with preexisting conditions.
As a quick review, omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids are extremely healthy for our body’s system, with omega 3 being a natural highlight. Most doctors and dietitians recommend mixing both these fats into your diet for maximum effect.
Foods High in Monounsaturated Fats
If you’re looking to increase either your monounsaturated fat intake or your polyunsaturated fat intake, certain foods can be more beneficial than others. The following foods are high in monounsaturated fats:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Peanut oil
- Nut butters
- Nuts (especially almonds, cashews, macadamias, and pecans)
Most of these foods best serve merely as ingredients to be mixed in with other foods, but all are healthier to eat as a substitute for saturated or trans fats:
Foods High in Polyunsaturated Fats
Similarly, certain foods are particularly high in polyunsaturated fats. These include:
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Corn oil
- Unhydrogenated soybean oil
- Flax oil
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Fish (especially salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna, and trout)
Many effects of omega fatty acids are still being discovered and tested as science and healthcare evolves. The food lists provided can help you balance your diet and improve your overall quality of life, but as a final warning: take it easy.
All fatty acids still contain calories, and calories can be bad in large quantities. Foods containing omega 3, 6, and 9 acids are either healthy or vital for a human’s diet, but too much of a good thing always has the chance of becoming bad.
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